Satellite Motion: Speed & Period Video Lessons

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Problem: Satellites in near-earth orbit experience a very slight drag due to the extremely thin upper atmosphere. These satellites slowly but surely spiral inward, where they finally burn up as they reach the thicker lower levels of the atmosphere. The radius decreases so slowly that you can consider the satellite to have a circular orbit at all times.As a satellite spirals inward, does it speed up, slow down, or maintain the same speed?

FREE Expert Solution

In this problem, we need to know Kepler's law of planetary motion, which is stated as:

T2R3TR23, where T is the time period and R is the radius of the orbit. 

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Problem Details

Satellites in near-earth orbit experience a very slight drag due to the extremely thin upper atmosphere. These satellites slowly but surely spiral inward, where they finally burn up as they reach the thicker lower levels of the atmosphere. The radius decreases so slowly that you can consider the satellite to have a circular orbit at all times.

As a satellite spirals inward, does it speed up, slow down, or maintain the same speed?

Frequently Asked Questions

What scientific concept do you need to know in order to solve this problem?

Our tutors have indicated that to solve this problem you will need to apply the Satellite Motion: Speed & Period concept. You can view video lessons to learn Satellite Motion: Speed & Period. Or if you need more Satellite Motion: Speed & Period practice, you can also practice Satellite Motion: Speed & Period practice problems.